The LEAD User Method was developed by Professor Eric von Hippel at MIT, the Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachussetts, USA, in the 1980s. It is based on the empirical realization that innovations are often not initiated by manufacturers, but that users are often the driving force behind developments. It turns out that these innovative activities are not distributed randomly, but are concentrated on a certain group of particularly progressive users, customers (LEAD Users).
The aim of this method, which follows the approach of Open Innovation, is to develop products, processes, services or business models that are particularly close to the market, customer-oriented and geared to the end user.
So-called LEAD Users are integrated into this development process as early as possible. These are progressive users or inventors, pioneers in their field, who feel needs before they will have the masses tomorrow. LEAD Users benefit particularly from innovation because they are dissatisfied with the existing products or processes on the market and they therefore profit greatly from a new product, a new development, an innovation.
The method ensures that the products and processes best meet the future needs of the users.